Being honest is one of the most important things you can teach your kids. If you teach your child to be honest from an early age, they’ll have a much easier time navigating life and its many experiences as they get older, and telling the truth will keep them out of a lot of trouble, as well.
As a parent, you want to teach your child honesty. As parents and educators, we understand the importance of teaching your child honesty, too. In fact, honesty is one of the traits we expect in every member of our society – trustworthiness is a cornerstone of civilization itself. Yet, this is seldom taught to children directly.
In this blog, we’ll discuss five ways to teach your child honesty.
Model honesty at home.
There are times when telling the truth can be difficult, but that doesn’t mean it’s OK to lie. Integrity is important to teaching your child honesty – it helps people make decisions about what is right and what is wrong. When parents model honesty and talk with their kids about truth-telling, children learn that telling the truth is an important value — even when it’s hard to do.
Be open about your mistakes: When you make a mistake at home, tell your child about it. It shows them that it’s OK to be imperfect and make mistakes.
Praise children when they tell the truth.
The importance of teaching your child honesty can’t be emphasized enough. When children are honest, they have better relationships with others. They also develop a stronger sense of self-worth, as they learn to value themselves and their accomplishments.
A helpful way to convey to kids the benefits of telling the truth is by praising them when they tell the truth, even if it’s about something bad, such as stealing a cookie from a jar without permission.
Praise doesn’t always have to be verbal; sometimes just a hug or smile from you may be enough to acknowledge that what your child did was wrong but that you still love him or her for telling the truth about it.
When kids lie, don’t get angry.
Child psychology experts say the best way for parents to teach children honesty and get them to tell the truth is through talking and listening, not by punishing them. When kids lie, it’s a natural reaction for many parents to get angry. But experts say that won’t help teach children about honesty and the importance of being truthful.
By simply asking your child questions – rather than getting angry or yelling – you can help them understand why they lied and encourage them to be honest in the future.
Give your child chances to be truthful.
The most powerful way to teach children honesty is to give them opportunities to be truthful. You can do this by giving your child a chance to correct you when you make a mistake. For example, if you say, “You ran the race in five minutes,” and the child says, “Six,” your response should be: “Thanks for telling me. I was wrong.”
You might also ask your child his or her opinion about something and then, when the child gives an answer, say: “I’m glad you’re willing to tell me what you really think.”
These statements reinforce that it’s okay to tell the truth, even if it’s uncomfortable. You’ll be surprised at how much more honest your child may become as a result.
Encourage your child to feel comfortable telling the truth.
Let your children know you care about their thoughts to teach them honesty. Make time to talk every day. Listen carefully and remember what they say – they will feel important and be more likely to tell you the truth.
You’re probably already modeling truthfulness and keeping your word with your child, but the tips above will provide a good roadmap to start consistently practicing honesty in your home. By practicing these ideas together with your children, you’ll build lasting habits that will benefit them throughout their life.